TBWA\C\D Readies Launch of XM Satellite Radio

The sight of David Bowie strolling into a studio to tape a spot for XM Satellite Radio was a memorable moment for Maggie Silverman.

While the group account director at TBWA\Chiat\Day admits to being slightly starstruck, it was then that the true dimensions of the shop’s fledgling account—a satellite radio service with 100-plus channels of entertainment, music, news and sports—began to fully take shape.

“You could just see that Bowie had star power,” said Silverman, who oversees the $45 million account out of Playa del Rey, Calif. “You knew this was something pretty big.”

Bowie, bluesman B.B. King and hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg are all helping launch the Washington, D.C.-based service, available to consumers for $9.99 a month.

The trio appear in a campaign set to break Aug. 10 with a 60-second theater spot. Seven 30-second TV spots, print spreads, billboards, radio ads and direct mail will follow in September, when the service begins.

In the theater ad, Bowie crashes through the roof of a motel, Snoop through the roof of a skyscraper, and King through a barn. In each case, their arrival is foreshadowed by a shower of objects that represent a type of radio programming. The tagline is, “Radio to the power of X.”

Silverman and TBWA\C\D chairman Lee Clow were in New York last week to help launch XM. “This has been a real morale booster for everyone [at the agency],” Silverman said. “It’s the type of account everybody wants to win. This is something that can really revitalize West Coast advertising.”

The shop won the account more than a year ago. The announcement last week means XM is first out of the box with such a service.

In June 2000, Sirius Satellite Radio of New York named Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, as its agency. Sirius planned to offer more than 100 channels by the end of the year. It did launch its satellite, but the start date has been pushed back to late 2001 due to a shortage of chips for its receivers.